Saturday, March 6, 2010

#502: Revanche

(Götz Spielmann, 2008)

Thirty minutes into this film, I thought to myself, "I have no idea where this film is going to go." What I most loved about Revanche was the fact that I was right, and I think anyone who sees it would agree with me. Yet the movie never seems gimmicky or lost. It is so deliberately constructed that it almost seems as if the people associated with the film were born to make this one movie. In this way, the film is strongly reminiscent of one of my favorite movies of all time, The Vanishing. That film also used a fluke crime (against someone's girlfriend) to delve into deeper philosophical issues that surround the victims and perpetrators of violence. And like Revanche, that movie was made by a seasoned filmmaker who had yet to gain international attention when the film was made.

This film might not be quite as good as that masterpiece, but Revanche might be even more impeccably made. The pacing here might be frustrating for the average viewer expecting a thriller, but it's perfect for the subject matter. And the way Spielmann dwells on certain locations and then doubles back to them at critical moments to underscore the way these characters have been tied together through fate (and their surroundings) is understated and beautiful.

I did have a few problems with the film. One character's decision to sleep with another character didn't seem earned to me, and the final plot twist was much more predictable than the previous two hours. But considering how invested I was in the characters by then - and how much of a ride the film had taken me on - I still had my mouth dropped open in the aftermath of that twist. Revanche is a peaceful thriller, a film that takes all of the conventions and puts them underneath the motivations of these sympathetic characters. The result is the same emotional journey you would get watching a first rate thriller, but it seems all the more intense because you believe in this world, and you care about it. Revanche is an exceptional film.

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